Songkran: We All Want To Be A Part Of It
Maybe you've heard of it, one of the biggest water festivals in the world, Songkran. This Thai new year celebration just came to an end. So while we're over here finishing our taxes in mid April, in Thailand they are getting hosed down by elephants in the streets! This holiday is a highlight for both locals and tourists. A cross-country water gun fight. Yes, you read that correctly, the entire country participates in dousing each other with water guns for a week long to wash away the past and cleanse them for the new year. This holiday also incorporates traditional elements that are very sacred to local Thais and should be respected if you ever get the chance to be in Thailand during Songkran. So if you are planning on making a visit or interested in putting a new trip on your bucket list, read on, and I will let you know the best places to go and what you will need in order to have the experience of a lifetime. I've started to look forward to it more than our own Western New Year, psssh...countdowns and champagne are no competition to water gun fights with random strangers.
First things first, Songkran takes no prisoners, everyone is game for a bucket of water poured over their head. Cars, people going to the market for a bite to eat, small children, and even old people participate in this joyous celebration. Be sure to look out for the ice cold water, this can send shivers down your spine and the ice chucks can cause some serious damage. In some towns they will even have giant fire hoses shooting out water into the crowd. If you are on a budget and can't afford a water gun, don't fret, plain old buckets work just fine. Your best best is to make friends with the locals, set up a spot with a barrel of water or access to a hose.
It is important to make you plans for Songkran in advanced because hotels will be booked out and transportation can be a nightmare (all trains and most buses will be full) if you don't decide where to go at least a couple of weeks in advanced. But where to go? Depending on who you ask, you will get a lot of different answers, but my favorite Songkran experience took place in Ayutthaya with a Thai friend and her family. She gave me an unforgettable experience, probably one of the best weeks of my life. We were able to experience the traditional, family aspect of Songkran, and the wild and fun water festival that you read about online. Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok are the top destinations for Songkran festivals with Chiang Mai at the top of the list. In Bangkok, make your way to Silom or Khao San road if you're interested in being in a crowd with a good mixture of locals and tourists. If you want a more authentic experience then definitely hit up Ayutthaya or Chiang Mai. These destinations take Songkran to the extreme and you can be sure it will be the experience of a lifetime.
Just like most holidays in the US, Songkran can be a dangerous week, so while you are having fun be sure to be responsible. Book hotels ahead of time so you are close enough to travel by public transportation each day. I would not suggest renting a car during this time as the traffic will be insane and will probably be more of a headache than a convenience.
Songkran is just another reason to visit Thailand and it remains at the top of many lists of things to travel for and festivals to experience. While I'm here in the US missing out on all the fun, I thought I'd share my past Songkran experiences and inspire some of you to make travel plans. Have any of you participated in this awesome holiday? Post comments below, I would love to hear your feedback!
You can read more here
- Johna Hunger